tv Book Discussion on Maxed Out CSPAN January 4, 2014 2:45pm-3:31pm EST
force us to do all kind of things. >> sunday best selling author, lawyer and regan official mark levin takes calls and questions in-depth. live for three hours. booktv's in-depth the first sunday of every mopth month. and online we will discuss the book so read the book and join the discussion. up next, women are the main bread winners but the u.s. workplace and hostile to woman. >> thank you for the lovely
introduction. thank you for coming out. i wanted to thank kepler's for >> hos hosting this event. this is a great option, you don't have to buy by book, but buy a book and support the organization. i have three short excerpts i would like to read for you. and then i thought we could have a short question and answer. has anyone read the book yet? some people have started it. some people finished it. some people working on it. just to give you context. the format of the book is
unusual. one of my publishers told me it is category stretcher. it is written primarily as a memoir. it is a personal experience of trying to balance a demanding career and motherhood and how i completely failed. but i tried to make sense of the failure and put it into a bigger context. and the idea for turning it into a book started when i started hearing stories from other women that were similar to mine about burning out and i realized how maxed out we are and i wanted to understand it in a bigger way. i tried to include a sidebar of research. like a mini essay where i take on a scene from that chapter and
i will share one of those as well with you. i would like to start in the middle, i guess. so in the beginning of the book i had a baby girl and a step daughter who was a toddler. i started a big management job at a web design firm in san francisco. i loved everybody i was doing but i was wracked with guilt and struggling from the get-go. but over the years, i figured it out. i thought i had figured it out. i put my guilt in a box. i took classes on anxiety management and they helped me. then i had another baby and this part of the book takes place after i return from maternity
leave. so i have a new biby and two older kid. although i was working only a four day week schedule, we had one child more than when i worked five days. brian and i were both moving as fast as we could, and yet concern tasks were still not -- certain -- done. jake was behind on vaccines. i needed new glasses. all of us were overdo for a trip to the dentist. martha had a play coming up, the same day as ruby's school conference. when did we make time for stuff that was part of the normal lives but not ours. someone had to pick up the dry cleaning, buy stamps, organize family photos, get our taxes ready, plan birthday parties,
rsvp for other parties, shop around for life car and home insurance, stock the earthquake kit, bake brownies, ruby's swim lessons, invest retirement saving, pay the bills and cap roan ruby's class trip. and the work obligations that fell outside of work hours. dinners with clients, launch parties -- it was bad form to miss them. brian had invoicing, negotiating
contracts and other things he didn't get paid for. we were consultants and we needed a good project plan brian declared. each sunday night after the kids went to bed brian and i hunkered down to create the plan. we listed everything that needed to be done and decided which one were top priority and divided an elaborate spreadsheet into his and her 30 minutes. it was every child drop off and pick up. work meetings and professional networking events. school events like martha's
science fair and ruby's pre-school art show. and time to work out and see friend was scheduled. this included time to create the next week schedule. color coded by category and took up half of the refrigerator. it filled me with an odd mixture of hope. i can do it all. and dread, not a moment to spare. on paper there was time for everything as long as nothing went wrong. but of course, things did. the car got a flat. a friend called for a favor. the water heater broke and flooded the floor. it was like the butterfly effect that caused the hurricane. one wrong move set off a chain
of events causing the whole schedule to collapse. the worst was when one of us got sick because chances were all of us were sick, stuck in the missing school and work and getting bored off our nut. we took daily multi vitamins and i doled out holistic medicines and one entire shelf was devoted to tinctures and things i can
barely pronounce. we avoided sugar because i read sugar compromises the immune sism. i sprinkled yeast on the kid's yogert and let them lick the white powder off the spoon. we canceled playdates if anyone's forehead felt slightly warm. every working parent was terrified of germs. we washed our hand as if we had ocd and i carried wipes in my pours purse. i flushed public toilets with my
foot. and after jake started day care and i returned to work we got sick and sick and sick again. chest colds. unexplained fevers that lasted five days. rashed that bloomed on the kid's belly, under air arms and faded away. head lice which might only invest one of kids but required us to treat everyone in the family and wash every towel and sheet and blanket in the house. once martha got a stomach flu in the middle of the night and i will apologize if you just had dinner, she tried to get to the bathroom but hid the pole on her bed and somehow managed to eat all four walls. the last thing she had before
head was an entire pint of st strawberries. it looked like a dying animal ran around the room. sinus infections, whooping cough -- the disease eradicated in the 1940s? that whooping cough. that earned us a free house call from the centers for disease control and shutdown the day care for a week. in three months brian and i missed ten days of work between us to stay home with sick kids. if the rest of the year turned out to be anything like those three months we would miss more than 40 days of work. how could this be?
i had six paid six days a year. generous considering half of american workers don't have any. but wasn't close to covering all of the days one of my kids were sick. i needed vacation time to cover the holidays that only children and postal workers get. i asked our pediatrician for advice. she had seen it all and i trusted her. why do we keep getting sick i asked during one of the many visit to check on a child's lingering cough. she had this is normal. children get on average 8-10 colds and fevers a year.
it was absurd and consistent with everything we had experienced. when we got home i did the math. let's say on average your kid has to be home one day per in illness. that is nine days per did per year. let's say you have two kids and their nine suck days overlap. that means you need 13-14 days off a year to be home with a sick kid. some years are better, others are worse. that doesn't include the days when you, the parent, are sick. and no matter how many green smoothies you drink for breakfast if you are up all night with a sick kid you are bound to get whatever is keeping them awake. my rule was to never take a sick
day for myself was was unless i was throwing up. my frequent coughs garnered sympathy from some and eye stars from others. people would say why you exposing me to your germs and i thought i cannot afford a sick day. when one of the kids were sick and brian was unavailable i worked from home. it sucks to have conference calls on mute why your feverish child is moaning on the couch. you feel like your letting your coworkers and your children down the most. the sicknesses went on and other
>> let's all work a 30-hour week. i've noticed that in morning meeting, morning work meetings, my colleagues tend to be more attentive and get a lot done. as the day wears on, our meetings become less and less productive. then i read a story on salon by sarah robinson that described this phenomenon showcasing research proving that long hours kill profits, productivity and employees. since your boss probably hasn't read this story and chances are you're still stuck, like so many americans, working 50 or more hours a week, and since that leaves you very little time to read anything except this book, i will share the highlights here. most people assume that if you increase your hours by, say, 50%, you will get 50% more done. not true. study after study shows that for industrial workers, productivity
dramatically decreases after eight hours a day. knowledge workers, people like me and most of my friends, have only six good hours of productivity a day. after that we are cooked noodles. studies also show that when companies reduce workers' hours back down to 40 a week, their businesses become -- this is a quote -- significantly more productive and profitable. sometimes there are short-term gains when people work 60 or 90 hours -- 70 hours a week. however, as the article points out, the risk of burnout begins after one week. and then this is a quote from the article: without adequate rest, recreation, nutrition and time off to just be, people get dull and stupid. they can't focus. they spend more time answering e-mail and do you having off -- goofing off than they do working. they make mistakes that they'd
never make if they were rested, and fixing those mistakes takes longer because they're fried. some software teams descend into a negative progress mode where they are actually losing ground week after week because they're so mentally exhausted that they're making more errors than they can fix. despite 150 years of research proving that long hours is bad for everyone, americans still work some of the longest hours of any country in the industrialized world. shouldn't we know better? that's the end of the quote. robinson blames this on a culture problem created by a bunch of geeky, workaholic software programmers from silicon valley who were upheld for their passion and made be not working on the weekend seem terribly old-fashioned. but most of us, whether we have children or not, can't work this way. so negative productivity mode,
that's the term you have to tell your boss. why i felt my story had something to contribute to this whole conversation about women and work is because i think that there is an inordinate amount of discussion put on women's personal choices. i think that whenever the conversation comes up about having it all or leaning in or opting out or women many poverty even, it goes back to, well, it's your choice to work or not work. and, um, i think that what we're missing and what the media's missing is that this is actually a public health issue. when you are, you know, hopefully by the end of this book you, um, have read enough research and enough story to see that the u.s. has a terrible lack of support for working families who are really at the
bottom of the list of developed countries, and we also have a culture problem that goes beyond policy. but this isn't just making people unhappy, it's actually making a lot of us sick. and so i would like to read this last excerpt from late in the book, chapter 23, which starts when i stopped working. i wish i could tell you i quit my job, took a few weeks to recuperate and emerged refreshed and ready to embrace a new chapter in my life. if i had quit seven months earlier, that might have happened. maybe if i had hit the reset button then before our ghastly winter, before vlad and april -- those were two very difficult clients we had at work -- perhaps i'd have just quietly stepped away from my career like so many other moms i knew. this is what happened instead.
the first few days after i stopped working, i cried constantly. i woke up in the middle of the night shaking, heart pounding, unable to go back to sleep. i imagined myself as a car that had run out of gas. i just needed to refuel. but the days turned into weeks -- here come the ambulances for me. [laughter] but the days turned into weeks, and i wasn't getting any better. i hadn't run out of gas, i'd run out of oil. my internal machinery had ground against itself and fused. if you could have lifted my hood, acrid, thick spoke would have billowed out. i continued cocry on the couch -- to cry on the couch. sometimes i would move from the couch to my bed, or i stared at the dark reddish-purple leaves of the plum tree in our backyard. when the wind blew through the branches, the underside of the leaves looked silvery-blue, like
the bloom of a raisin. it was entrancing, like watching goldfish swimming in a bowl; always moving, but never going anywhere. brian had started a new project. every few hours he took a break from his room to come inside, stroke my hair and say reassuring things. you're home. everything's going to be okay. you just need a long rest, he said over and over. he was remarkably upbeat considering his wife had just lost her mind. the tension that had steadily grown between us since i started back full time had evaporated. there was nothing to fight about anymore. it was as if brian had been expecting this. and now that i'd finally collapsed, it was a relief to him. now there was something he could do. for starters, he could take care of the kids. cruel irony. i had yearned for years to have more time with my children. now that i finally had time,
being around them was a torment. i felt as if my ears would bleed from their sleeks and -- shrieks and happy squeals. i loved them, of course. i never stopped loving them and being their mother. but all i wanted was to lie down alone in profound silence. i wanted one of those sensory deprivation tanks with no light and no sound, so quiet that silence itself became a noise. i would lie there until every thought stopped, until i was as relaxed as a boiled egg noodle. and still i would not move. i would stay until i was good and bored. i hadn't been bored in years. it sounded like such a luxury. i would go online -- go on lying there in my dark, silent little tank until the air rid landscape of my -- aired land scape of my
bones grew moist, until i felt the rustle of wildlife, until the birds began a new song, until i felt completely whole and human and alive again. how long, i wondered, how long would that take? i made an appointment with dr. light, my psychiatrist, a few days after i stopped working. i hadn't seen her in five years, since ruby was a baby. this time i wasn't going to sign up for any classes. i i longed to be fixed once and for all. i wanted dr. light to pull a high-tech vacuum cleaner out from underneath her desk and suck the misery right out of me. a misery removal machine. absent that, i was pretty sure i wanted drugs. dr. light looked exactly the same as i remembered her. short, curly brownish-yea hair, no makeup, and that pleasantly
asymmetrical gaze. after quickly listing my symptoms like a truck stop or waitress reciting the day's potentials, i got to my point. i'm quitting my job, i said; that is, sort of. i'm on a leave of absence. i was planning to quit seven months ago, but then the economy tanked, so i stayed. i think i just got really burned out. she narrowed her eyes and nodded almost imperceptibly. yes, that's what it sounds like. i shifted forward again. dr. light, what is happening to me? am i having a nervous breakdown? i hadn't said that phrase, nervous breakdown, out loud before, but as soon as i did, it sounded perfectly right and strangely hopeful. serious yet temporary. something i would get through, not something i had to live with. reflecting on it much later, i could see that it also implied
catharsis, an internal active rebellion against the status quo like my spirit was going on strike to protest the constant mindless activity of my body. well, we wouldn't call it a breakdown, dr. light said. that's not a medical term. what would you call it? she looked down at my file for several seconds, then back at me. you may have a depression disorder and an anxiety disorder. often people who are depressed have anxiety, but you may have both disorders. i have two disorders, i said? i didn't like the sound of this. i still don't. nervous breakdown may not be an accepted medical term, but it neatly described an event. dr. light was describing a pathology. she ran her index finger down a page of my file, then looked up again. how do you feel about going on antidepress sames? now we were getting somewhere.
as long as she made it go away. will they make me feel better, i asked? many people find antidepress sames are quite effective at relieving anxiety and depression. her tone reminded me of the disclaimers you hear at the end of drug commercials: individual results may vary. she hadn't really answered my question, but then what did i expect her to say? yes, they'll fix you right up, dear. i'd like to start you on a new drug called she lex saw, dr. light continued. it's a powerful drug that we use to treat both depression and anxiety. unfortunately, it usually takes four to six weeks to start working. four to six weeks? i slumped back against the couch. there are some potential side effects, dr. light continued, and then she began to list them; dry mouth, headaches, decreased sexual desire, night sweats,
anxiety -- anxiety? did she really just say that? it was like telling a drowning person to take one more big gulp of water. my eyes filled with tears again. dr. light, i don't know if i can do this. if i get any more anxious, i'll spontaneously come bust. >> we can start you on a very low dose, she said, ignoring my hyperbole. apparently, i was not her craziest patient. you can work up to the full, therapeutic dose slowly. that will minimize the side effects, but you won't get the benefits until you reach the full, therapeutic dose. each time she said the words full, therapeutic dose, she slowed down and enunciated each word with reverence which made me think of a catholic priest making the sign of a cross. i'll write you a prescription for atavan as well. she swivelled back to her computer and started typing up
the rings as if the matter -- the prescription as if the matter were settled. you can take it every four hours to minimize the symptoms, she said. once you've adjusted to the celexa, we'll wean you off the atavan. well, i thought, i got what i came for. i decided to trust dr. light. she'd been right about the anxiety class. she obviously knew what she was doing, which made one of us. when i got home that afternoon, i emptied my little white paper bag of medication on the kitchen table as if i'd been out trick or treating. see? i held up the two bottles to show brian. i've got my uppers, and i've got my downers. just like elvis, he on is served. all you're missing is the peanut butter and banana sandwich. that's where i'm going to stop. um, so obviously, i'm fine now. [laughter] hopefully it's obvious. but i won't tell you what happens after that. you'll have to read the book.
i think now would be a good time to answer any questions that anyone may have. and there's a mic in the back. and if there's no questions, we can stop -- >> [inaudible] >> oh, do you want to do the -- thank you. >> i'm curious how your children related to you during that period, because that must have been scary or difficult, and kind of how did you, how did you work through that part of it? >> right, how did my kids relate. well, when i first stopped working -- and, by the way, i am working now, so it's not like i stopped forever. it's funny, i -- so the early days when i first stopped working were total crisis mode. i mean, i was barely -- i wasn't functional really.
and it's amazing how the village kind of of appears sometimes when you need it. i mean, we didn't have any family around to help, but suddenly my aunt was flying out from the other side of the country s and she stayed with us for that first week. and, um, friends just came off the woodwork, you know, bringing meals, taking kids out on the weekend. so i don't know that my kids noticed a whole lot. um, and i would like to think that that's a testament to how hard my husband and i were both trying to kind of keep it all together for them. and i think this is something that gets lost a lot, is we are so busy working and raising families and taking care of other people, and is we don't realize how much it's hurting us to not, to not be taking care of ourselves. >> i have a couple questions. one is i'm -- well, maybe one comment. i'm a little surprised that this
hasn't generated a business opportunity of an industry to sort of take care of errands, okay? >> oh, it has. >> okay. okay. >> oh, it has. >> okay. >> there's a whole part in the book about this. >> okay. so if you have enough money, you can hire somebody to go and, you know, fix your car for you and get the laundry done and -- >> pick up your groceries, fold your laundry, um, run your errands, buy your mother's day cards for your mother. i mean, it's amazing what you can pay for so that you can work more. but a lot of people can't afford that. so it's not a solution for most of society, right? >> another question is that sometimes people, maybe most people actually, find themselves in sort of a rock and a hard place. i mean, supposing you are the sole source of health care insurance for your family -- >> yeah. >> and you were going nuts, but,
you know, your kids wouldn't get their shots if you didn't work. >> i think that's an excellent point. i mean, i am not an advocate for women not working. i actually think that when work works right, families tend and society tends to be more stable when both parents can work or single parents, because there are a lot of single parents raising families, and they're the sole support. but i also think we have of to recognize that we can't do everything without some kind of support. and i think that my story is one example of what happens, you know, and everyone has a different story. but mine is one example of what happens when you try to do everything and you don't have enough support. i think this my case -- in my case when i was sleep deprived and coming back from maternity leave, i really just needed to work less for a while, and it wasn't an option. >> and then another question, maybe a third question is what do the bosses think of all of
this? and, you know, i mean, i worked in the health care field, and i can tell you our, my fellow physicians had very generous maternity leave. but that's because we were extracting practically, you know, half the wealth of society in order to finance it, okay? for ourselves. and, but in your field maybe it's not possible to do that. >> yeah. so what did the bosses think? there is a silver lining in here, and i think there's a win/win/win. and i talk about it a lot in the book. one ray of hope for me is a program called row, and it's a management strategy that companies right now, gap inc. is using it. and basically what they say is -- this is especially pertinent to knowledge workers. forget about time as you know it. forget about clocking in and clocking out. you know, we're always available
anyway, so who cares? forget about showing up for meetings. meetings are optional. your sole job, employee, is that we're going to hold you accountable to results. and what this does is it kind of turns the whole paratime dime around because it means that employees who are really good at their jobs and effective and efficient are, end up being rewarded for that. and people who are just a butt in the chair, but they're there for 12 hours a day, they're no longer rewarded just for kind of showing up. and companies become more profitable. i mean, there's all kinds of case studies around this. so i think that's just one example, but i think that there's a lot to be gained for businesses figuring this out, because the fact is we're not living the 1-9d --1950s. we have to make room for people's lives. and they'll be with very loyal
and productive workers if we figure it out. >> so how many bosses are trying to figure this out actually? >> how many bosses are trying -- i don't know how to answer that. i think, to me, the issue around that is that people in management need to understand that they're actually losing money by burning out workers. and i think that that can be a hard case to make. but if you look at the research, it's true. if you look at the research, what you see is companies with more women in leadership, so the companies that are able to actually retain women instead of pushing them out of jobs like mine actually make higher profits, and they do better on the stock exchange. so, and then there's all this different productivity that i just realize, companies where people are working insane hours, have a lot of unhappy, unproductive people in the building. >> so is there a movement underway about this? or --
>> is there -- we'll answer this one, and then we'll go to the next person. yeah, there's a couple. so one thing that i am doing with the book, because a lot of what i'm doing with the book is describing in very intimate detail the problem. but my hope is that when you finish reading the book, you feel really motivated to make some changes in your life and kind of in society at large. so i'm donating 10% of my author proceeds from the book to moms rising.org. and, i, you know, i don't want work for them, but i have been blogging for them for a while, and i've been very actively sort of watching the kind of work that they're doing. so they're an advocacy organization that lobby bees for things like paid -- lobbies for things like paid maternity leave. we're the only developed country in the world that still doesn't provide this for their citizens. things like paid sick days, half of american ors don't have that. but they're also trying to look at things like work culture change. and i think they're poised to
make a really big difference, and they're just one example. >> [inaudible] >> thank you. thanks. >> hi. thanks for talking. to. >> yeah. >> so i had, i was reading the section in your book where you talk about women sharing what's going on on the inside verse or us like their exterior, what it looks like is happening. >> yeah. >> and i loved that idea and wondered kind of where you got that and if you continue to do that at all. and then my other question if i'm going to try to remember -- oh. you can talk a little bit about writing this book and what that process was like and how you fit that into, obviously, a very full life. >> so help me remember, two parts to this question. the first about insides and outsides, there's a piece in the book where i ask women who i know personally, i obviously know them very well, to describe what's really going on for them under the surface. and i picked them all because they're women who on the surface look very, um, together and professional and happy, and they have lots of friends, and their kids are doing great.
but the idea came to me because a friend of mine, a friend who's a very close friend, the kind of friend where we let each other see our mess, was saying that, you know, she was talking about other women at school and how they don't have money problems, and they don't have, you know, robs with their bosses x. meanwhile, her job is stagnating and that she has to keep remembering not to compare her insides to other people's outsides. because the truth is we don't really know what's going on for those other women. so that's where the idea came from, and i asked these women to say what was really going on, and it was very touching, the kinds of things they said. and then your other part was about writing the book. that's fun to talk about. so the book happened in stages. so i stopped working, you know, i say i quit my job, but the truth is i was on -- i went home sick and never went back. i mean, i just couldn't work for a while. and once i got off the couch and i started eating again and
wasn't crying every moment, i needed something to do. and i just felt so terrible. i mean, it is such -- i've heard this story from other women over and over to, so i know it's not just me -- it's such a comedown when you have built your career and your life around being a capable person and then to run into your limits that way. and, you know, the good side of that is i think that's where we all, if we have that experience, have an opportunity to really grow and become deeper people. so in my case there was a lot of soul searching, and i wrote the first draft of the memoir in, like, four months. it's just all i did with besides taking care of my kids. and then i started working again, and i kind of set the book aside. and i actually started blogging, and it was through the blogging that i started hearing there women in every country. i mean, from indonesia, argentina, the u.k., canada,
guatemala, all over the u.s., every state, you know, the midwest, the south, everywhere with similar stories. and they were in every industry you can imagine. and that's when i really started researching the issue and then kind of carved this into the book that it really is now. thank you. did you have a question? >> quick one. i won't take too much time. i might have missed this, because i walked in late. i but my question to you, i've gone through something similar to what you've probably gone through, and i'm wondering how did you kind of gather the strength and courage to get back to work and, you know, what did that look like for you? >> that's a great question. how did i get the strength to go back to work? it's kind of like falling off a horse. because, you know, the longer you don't get back on the horse, you start to psych yourself out, you know? i went from, i mean, i was -- this is the thing, i was good at
my job. like, i -- this is silly, but be i saved my work evaluations, and there are pages and pages of how great i am and what a great manager. but when i stopped working, it's like it all fell away. my confidence was just shattered. and i, you know, my strategy for going back, so i'm self-employed now, and i have been since i started working again which was about three years ago. my strategy in the beginning was to pick the most boring projects i could find, the least glamour and only part time. and i just kind of eased myself back in that way. and, you know, it wasn't fun work, it wasn't building my career, but it was just kind of building my confidence. and it was kind of amazing. there was some point, it took a really long time, this whole process, but there was some point when i realized i totally had my groove back. [laughter] >> okay. so it did. >> it did happen.
>> you know, this my case -- in my case i feel like i'm going in the opposite direction. i'm more confident, and i'm more at ease with myself, so it makes me feel like this is the right thing, and i'm not in a you arely to get back. >> you're not working -- >> i'm not working right now, so it kind of sometimes worries me, i think of think, oh, am i taking this easy, or is it true, you know? >> i think you need to listen to yourself. you know, there are so many people telling women to lean in, to opt out, you know, your life is going to be ruined if you don't work, your life is going to be ruined if you don't work. i think it's really personal. to me, it sounds like you're doing the right thing. [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> thank you. okay. any other questions? okay. thanks for having me, everyone. [applause]
>> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers, watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week. republican strategist mary matalin and her husband, former clinton campaign manager james carville, reflect on their personal life and the current state of politics in the u.s. in "love and war: twenty years, three presidents, two daughters and one louisiana home." in "burkas, baseball and apple pie: being muslim in america," rani tabari discusses her life in america. journalist betty metzger recounts the 971 break-in that uncovered j. ed for hoover's
secret investigations and upended the bureau in "the burglary." fox news business host lou dobbs opines on current political, social and economic issues in "upheaval." in "company man: thirty years of controversy and crisis in the cia," john rizzo, a former lawyer for the cia for 34 years, provides an in-depth look inside the central intelligence agency. a firsthand account of the 2011 revolution in egypt is presented in "cairo: memoir of a city transformed. requests look for these titles in bookstores this week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on booktv.org. >> james tobin examines franklin dr. roosevelt's life with polio which he contracted in 1921 at the age of 39. the45